The Orange Free State (Dutch: Oranje-Vrijstaat Afrikaans: Oranje-Vrystaat) was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province. Extending between the Orange and Vaal rivers, its borders were determined by the United Kingdom in 1848 when the region was proclaimed as the Orange River Sovereignty, with a seat of a British Resident in Bloemfontein.
In the northern part of the territory a Voortrekker Republic was established at Winburg in 1837. This state merged with the Republic of Potchefstroom which later formed part of the South African Republic (Transvaal).
Following the granting of independence to the Transvaal Republic, the British recognized the independence of the Orange River Sovereignty on 17 February 1854 and the country officially became independent as the Orange Free State on 23 February 1854, with the signing of the Orange River Convention. The United States and the Orange Free State mutually recognized each other in 1871. The new republic incorporated both the Orange River Sovereignty and the traditions of the Winburg-Potchefstroom Republic.
Although the Orange Free State developed into a politically and economically successful republic, it experienced chronic conflict with the British (see Boer Wars) until it was finally annexed as the Orange River Colony in 1900. It ceased to exist as an independent Boer republic on 31 May 1902 with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging at the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Boer War. It joined the Union of South Africa in 1910 (which became the Republic of South Africa in 1961) as a province under its former name, along with the Cape Province, Natal, and the Transvaal.
The republic's name derives partly from the Orange River, which in turn was named in honour of the Dutch ruling royal family, the House of Orange, by the Dutch settlers under Robert Jacob Gordon. The official language in the Orange Free State was Dutch.
... The Consulates of the Orange Free State formed the official representation of this Boer republic abroad, and were established in several European states and in the United States of America between 1855 and 31 May 1902 ... the republic, most important consular post was the Consulate General of the Orange Free State in the Netherlands ... charged with negotiating and concluding treaties with other states and international organisations on behalf of the Orange Free State government ...
... Reitz was elected president of the Free State ... in general terms to a federal union between the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, and bound each of them to help the other, whenever ... The Free State, in fact, from its geographical position reaped the benefits without incurring the anxieties consequent on the settlement of a large Uitlander population on the Rand ...
... A small western area of the Republic of the Orange Free State is home to many of the diamond mines of South Africa ... These new mines within the Orange Free State and their great wealth attracted the attention of the British Empire their new-found interest eventually led to a heated ... deposits by prospectors in Griqualand led to a struggle for control between Britain, the Orange Free State and the Transval ...
... He pushed into and captured the Orange Free State in May 1900 and then pushed into the Transvaal to capture Johannesburg on 31 May ... declared the war over after the capture of the Orange Free State and Johannesburg, announcing the formation of the Transvaal Colony and the Orange River ... in western Transvaal and Christian de Wet in the Orange Free State ...
... sent to launch a counter-invasion of the Orange Free State ... On 28 May The Orange Free State was formally annexed, and renamed as the Orange River Colony ... Orange Free State President Martinus Theunis Steyn, and President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic, had both retreated with surviving elements of their governments, into eastern ...
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